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Whale shark butchered for its fins in the Philippines

04/03/2010 08:54:13

The disgusting site of a magnificent Whale shark that has had its fins hacked off and been left to die a painful death.

WWF Condemns Whale Shark Poachers, Calls for Enhanced Enforcement

February 2010. An 18-foot long Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) has been mutilated in the Philippines by having its fins cut off. The shark had been de-finned and was fighting for its life, and was found floating belly-up amidst the rough waters of Bahay Kambing, a sheltered. Its twin pairs of dorsal and pectoral fins had been sliced off - the soft, white flesh glistening in the morning rays. Knife-marks were evident all over its tail but, perhaps mercifully, it proved too thick to cut through.

"Scuba divers from Mabini's Acacia Resort first discovered the mutilated shark," recounts Casita Isabel resort owner Linda Reyes-Romualdez. "The shark was towed to nearby Caban cove, whose waters were more placid. Together with a fisheries patrol unit, volunteers splinted the shark by flanking it with bamboo poles and installing a net underneath to minimize further injuries. We wanted to ease its pain."

Sadly but unsurprisingly, the great sharks wounds proved too great and the shark, died the next day. The incident came right after the conclusion of the third Convention on Migratory Species for Sharks, The talks were held to safeguard shark populations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Fishermen from other districts
Fisheries patrol units reported that for several days, fishing vessels equipped with powerful strobe lights have been operating in Mabini waters, sometimes as close as 300 meters from shore. Responding to complaints from local resorts, the fishery patrol personnel and local police asked the fishermen, who were not local, to leave. They did.

Several nights later, the fishermen returned, this time to the adjacent municipality of Tingloy. The fishing went on until concerned divers informed Mabini of the grisly discovery.

Butchered for its fins, this Whale shark was killed
to satisfy appetites for shark fins.

Illegal act
"WWF condemns the perpetrators of this illegal act," declares WWF-Philippines Conservation Programmes Vice-President Joel Palma. "This is a real eye-opener, for it proves that the slaughter of endangered species - even one as big as a butanding (Whale shark) - can still take place if we let our guards down. The public and private sectors must come together to refine and polish current conservation mechanisms."

Once Hunted, Now Legally Protected
Filipinos have hunted whale sharks for decades, the waters off Bohol, Misamis Oriental and Sorsogon were once fishing grounds for butanding hunters. Shark fins and meat are usually exported to China, Hongkong and Taiwan. Whale shark flesh, called ‘Tofu meat' sells for roughly $8 per kilogramme, while dried shark fins are valued a hundred times more - approximately $800 per kilogramme.

Protected since 1998
BFAR reported that at least 200 whale sharks were slaughtered in 1997 alone. On 15 January 1999, 64 boxes labelled as Lapu-lapu or grouper meat made it through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and were shipped to Taiwan. Taiwanese authorities later informed authorities that the boxes contained whale shark meat. WWF has long spearheaded whale shark conservation in the Philippines, and together with the DENR and BFAR successfully lobbied for their legal protection - which took effect in1998.

Whale sharks are now classified by the IUCN as vulnerable and are protected by Philippine law under Republic Act 8550 and Fisheries Administrative Order 193. The possession or slaughter of a single whale shark merits a maximum jail term of four years, coupled with a large fine and the cancellation of the offending party's fishing licenses. Whale sharks accidentally caught in fishing gear must be immediately released, while whale sharks which have drifted to shore must be surrendered to the nearest BFAR office. Manta rays (Manta birostris) are also covered by the order.

WWF calls for all sectors to step up enforcement efforts nationwide. Adds Palma, "More poachers are out there - and they will not be at rest just because we are."

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

How much longer do we have?

These animals are taking a pounding everyday. How long before we break them. They are left to die the most undignified deaths that stand as a testimony to mankind's total ignorance to all other forms of life.

Posted by: Danny Mc Feely | 14 Jan 2013 22:00:29


This is just disgraceful! These poor animals get no respects because they are sharks, this poor beast had to suffer a whole day! These animals need to be protected and people like that should be inprisoned

Posted by: Katie Nethercoat | 25 Jun 2011 17:50:10

Providing Meat of Endangered Species

Poor and ignorant fishermen in the Philippines as well as poachers from China and Vietnam have been responsible for the diminishing populations of endangered, beautiful marine species for decades. With the ill-equipped navy and coast guard of the Philippines, it cannot protect its long and rugged coastlines and economic zones from both Filipino and foreign poachers who have been for decades on the hunt for turtles, groupers, sea horses, sea cucumbers, sharks and whales which the Chinese believe are aphrodisiacs that can satisfy or enhance their libido...What a shame to us humans who are supposed to be the steward of this planet, yet we are ignorant of the interrelatedness and interdependence of all living things for our continued survival on Earth...

Posted by: Rommie Pacana | 11 Aug 2010 08:08:30

Poachers Rangers

Wildlife Organisations should setup sea Rangers at various beach points to monitor and stop these perpetrators. Licence should be obtained from the local government to catch and prosecute these poachers.

Posted by: fadzlysham | 10 Mar 2010 07:34:44

Actual action

Its all well and good saying we need action, but we just sound like angry activists. Its all well and good telling the governments to take action but they just tell you to take a number and wait. Its time that some organisations were established specifically for the protection against illegal activities on nature. No more relying on paper pushing police. Im not suggesting illegal activites but in order to actually stop these nature terrorists we need to be harder than an old guy with a beard and a stern letter. Its time to beef up conservation.

Posted by: Matt Ward | 09 Mar 2010 16:09:06

Beat 'em up

it's time we take action, we can't let those retards continue killing those innocent animals. we should create a animal group on facebook.

Posted by: Pal Goalie Rapper | 09 Mar 2010 04:10:47


Ya I know. They are so bad and so mentally retarded! Also cruel. What the hell is wrong with them. Whale sharks are sooooo harmless

Posted by: Codypony | 09 Mar 2010 04:05:11

Time to get tough?

Is it time to get really tough. We sit by while minority groups plunder our seas and endanger already endangered wildlife. Representatives on behalf of the Chinese are killing millions of sharks a year to satisfy and silly need for a substance that has no taste and is served up to honour a guest and show that you are wealthy. Better ways to honour guests me thinks! A minority representative group representing the Japanese continue to slaughter the great whales largely for political gain, not any real need culturally or nutritionally. Let's get tough and tell these minorities they can't destroy our natural world for the sake of short term gain...naieve perhaps but I get really frustrated when I hear this continual bad news on the conservation front.

Posted by: Nic Slocum | 05 Mar 2010 13:57:38


If you are so hungry,theres many things to eat,why sharks?!

Posted by: sasan | 04 Mar 2010 23:55:08

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